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Why You Should Care About Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona

Glen Canyon Dam On paper, modern U.S. Sun Belt metropolises like L.A., Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, and Albuquerque shouldn’t exist. They simply don’t have enough water nearby to support their populations of millions of people—or their agricultural industries beyond city limits. It’s the Colorado River, hundreds of miles away, that allows them to survive in the desert Southwest today. A plumbing system spanning half the continent stores this river’s water between tall canyon walls, delivers its under entire mountain ranges, and even pumps it uphill all to supplement the water supplies of major cities and farmlands in California, Colorado, Arizona, and more. Stand at the foot of Glen Canyon Dam on the border of Arizona and Utah, and you’ll come face to face with the linchpin of modern civilization in the desert.

Hiking to The Wave in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

The Wave As I sized up a formidable switchback, my gut told me, “don’t even think about it!” That morning, my hiking buddies and I had trekked across a field of sagebrush, junipers, and yuccas into a small valley, gradually making our way up a gentle canyon wall in search of natural arches as a warm-up before continuing onto The Wave, a dazzling orange-and-white-striped rock formation on the Arizona–Utah border made famous by a Windows 7 wallpaper . After successfully finding the stiletto-shaped High Heel Arch and cetacean Moby Dick Arch, we were inspired to continue hiking further up in search of Dicks Arch, discovered just one month before. Moby Dick Arch Brian and Steve had already made it up, and I was next in line. I felt stuck—how was I supposed to make it up this sandy rock face with hardly anything to grab a hold of? I alternated between freezing in place and attempting to f

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Car to Survive in Spain

When I moved back home to Texas in 2015 after having spent three years living and working in Spain, the reverse culture shock I experienced was sharp— and it was mainly because I didn’t own a car . To get to work, I had to walk half an hour to the closest bus stop and hope that I didn’t miss a bus that only came by once every 30 minutes. Walking through sprawling neighborhoods of single-story homes to ride a bus to get to an office park on the other side of town felt so inefficient to me having just left Spain, where most people live in mid-rise apartments or condos above ground-level shops, restaurants, and offices. Getting groceries, going to the doctor, and grabbing something to eat or some coffee all meant I had to either hop in my parents’ car or face up to an hourlong walk—one way—from my parents’ house in the suburbs just to run a simple errand. It was frustrating to return to the U.S. and feel such a lack of agency after spending my first three

7 Ways to Travel after the Pandemic

Note: If you previously signed up to get email notifications whenever I publish a new blog post, this is the first one you’re receiving from  Follow.it , which I’m now using since Feedburner retired their email subscriptions feature. In the U.S., half of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in just half a year—a monumental feat after a year of unemployment, isolation, and death. Many people are resuming trips to see family and friends or just to get out of the house for a change. Other countries are loosening public safety measures and allowing limited international tourism once again. Yet the pandemic is by no means over. So far, only a quarter of people on the planet have received a dose of the vaccine (disproportionately in Western countries), and outbreaks driven by the delta variant could quickly overwhelm health systems again, but the end is certainly in sight. If you haven’t already taken advantage of the protection

Fort Verde State Historic Park: A Reminder of Arizona’s Indian Wars

Commanding Officer’s Quarters Stand in the breezeway of a charming, 150-year-old home, complete with period furniture and decorations, and you’ll finally get a chance to cool off from the Arizona heat. But you’ll be chilled when you realize why there’s a fort standing in the middle of Arizona, hundreds of miles from the nearest border.  Fort Verde State Historic Park  is the remnant of a military outpost built during the final campaigns of the Indian Wars. Administration building As Anglo settlers began to pour into the fertile Verde Valley region, the U.S. Army was tasked with protecting them from raids by Yavapai and Western Apache people defending their ancestral land. So Camp Verde was set up in 1865, later becoming the permanent Fort Verde in 1871. Years of battles between U.S. troops and Yavapai and Apache fighters culminated in the

Finding Petroglyphs in the Woods at Arizona’s V Bar V Heritage Site

Petroglyphs When I checked in at the Montezuma Well unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument , a volunteer ranger handed me a sparse, black-and-white paper map of the surrounding region and pointed out some places he recommended. One destination was an old ranch in central Arizona where he assured me I could find some petroglyphs out in the woods. Seems legit , I thought. I had already dragged my poor, formerly bright-white Toyota Corolla across one dirt road to get here, so what was one more?

Why Montezuma Castle National Monument’s Name Gets It All Wrong

Right off an interstate highway in central Arizona, a national monument protects prehistoric multi-story apartments nestled inside a limestone cliff, old canals that once fed water to crops in the desert, and even a pond where five unique species have evolved. But everything about the name of this park is just…totally, totally wrong. Montezuma Castle? More like Sinagua Cliff Dwellings When clueless Anglo settlers moved into the Verde Valley in the late 1800s and encountered these dwellings, they used the name of an Aztec ruler whose empire stretched across southern Mexico 1,300 miles away. Montezuma’s name, unfortunately, has stuck. “Sinagua” would be more accurate. It’s the term archaeologists apply to the Indigenous people who lived in central and northern Arizona between around 500 and 1500 CE. The Spanish words for “without water” or “waterless” have been used to refer to these people because they made do with little rainfall, diverting preci